Digital media and network technologies are now part of everyday life. The Internet has become the backbone of communication, commerce, and media; the ubiquitous mobile phone connects us with others as it removes us from any stable sense of location. Networked Publics examines the ways that the social and cultural shifts created by these technologies have transformed our relationships to (and definitions of) place, culture, politics, and infrastructure.
Four chapters—each by an interdisciplinary team of scholars using collaborative software—provide a synoptic overview along with illustrative case studies. The chapter on place describes how digital networks enable us to be present in physical and networked places simultaneously (on the phone while on the road; on the Web while at a café)—often at the expense of non-digital commitments. The chapter on culture explores the growth of amateur-produced and -remixed content online and the impact of these practices on the music, anime, advertising, and news industries. The chapter on politics examines the new networked modes of bottom-up political expression and mobilization, and the difficulty in channeling online political discourse into productive political deliberation. And finally, the chapter on infrastructure notes the tension between openness and control in the flow of information, as seen in the current controversy over net neutrality. An introduction by anthropologist Mizuko Ito and a conclusion by architecture theorist Kazys Varnelis frame the chapters, giving overviews of the radical nature of these transformations.
Online content including a research blog and lecture videos may be found at http://www.networkedpublics.org.
Contributors: Walter Baer, François Bar, Anne Friedberg, Shahram Ghandeharizadeh, Mizuko Ito, Mark E. Kann, Merlyna Lim, Fernando Ordonez, Todd Richmond, Adrienne Russell, Marc Tuters, Kazys Varnelis.
About the Editor
Kazys Varnelis is Director of the Network Architecture Lab, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University, and Member of the Founding Faculty at the School of Architecture, University of Limerick.
"Networked Publics is the place to start for anyone seeking to understand the symbiotic changes in new media and society today. Essential reading for both specialists and general readers."
Lev Manovich, author of The Language of New Media and Soft Cinema
"The Networked Publics group brought together smart people across a range of disciplinary and theoretical perspectives to engage in a serious and sustained conversation about the current state and future directions of the new media landscape. The questions they ask are ones we need to consider as we learn how to live, work, collaborate, create, and engage as citizens in our new networked society."
Henry Jenkins, author of Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide
"Networked Publics is a lucid, timely, and broadly interdisciplinary look at the most important technological and social change of our time: the sudden wiring and unwiring of the planet into a broadband network, with communication devices in the pockets of a significant proportion of the world's population. There is very little that is more important, more discussed, and less widely understood than the meaning of the emerging technosocial networks that are adopting digital media for a wide range of social, cultural, political, and economic ends. Bringing together an interdisciplinary team of anthropologists, economists, educators, designers, political scientists, computer scientists, legal and policy expertsthe Networked Publics groupwas the only way to try to capture the meaning of a phenomenon that is interdisciplinary by its nature. The team project blog was a beacon of clear thinking while the project was in progress, and the book is a sound foundation for debates about what networked publics mean, how they can be encouraged, how they should be regulated, how to protect against their dangerous aspects."
Howard Rheingold, author of Smartbombs: The Next Social Revolution